May 20, 2011

Don’t take big impact decision if…….

Decisions are difficult to make but managers at all levels have to take the responsibility for quality decisions based on the available data & facts. Barak Obama has been criticized for his ‘sleeping over’ for a day on the decision to sign order to execute Osama bin laden. Some US academics has appreciated his approach to decision making as sound one and efficient in such grave matters.

How do the responsible professionals arrive at decisions in the corporate world? There are managers that are known for their instant decisions making as compared to the majority who are either incapable of taking a decision at all or take long time to take decision. It is possible to take a decision in routine matters quickly but new problems need a process of collecting the facts, writing down the alternatives & their consequences and selecting the suitable decision in context of objectives, consequences and time phase.

Though enough research has been carried out the factors underlying the process of making Big Ticket decisions but little has been done to compare the big decisions with a series of small decisions of less significance?

Let’s examine a case to understand the issue. At an engineering college a group of students approached the director complaining against the faculty for giving them low marks in the internal assessment. The director felt helpless in presence of large group of students in his office. He did not try to have a conversation with them in that setting and asked the students to come with a separate written complaint and meet him one by one. He talked to each student individually and gave suitable solution to each one of them.

The director broke the case into small manageable parts and set out to solve it in a win-win manner. It has been observed that a complex decision may involve detailed examination to gather all the facts but still its better to avoid big impact decision and instead go for a series of small decisions. Big decisions have significant impact therefore require greater risks to all those involved in it. Any decision could be broken into smaller manageable parts and then executed in a planned serial manner to achieve same goal at lower disruption.

May 18, 2011

Defence is better than Attack in Marketing Strategy

Most SMEs in developing countries like India do not budget for marketing and hit the road without a clearly differentiated marketing strategy. Result? They get stuck in a situation that would leave no option for them but to go for a strategic retreat in order to prepare for attack at a later day. Therefore instead marching forward on the strength of incremental gains accrued with each plan period they are forced to land up in a loop that offers no clue about direction of growth.

There are many organizations that would just produce or acquire products, then without any marketing inputs,  leave the rest to the marketing forces to liquidate the inventory whenever that happens. Such thinking is risky and very costly. Your customers are always looking for options and you competition would love to undermine your offer, therefore you can not wait for attack on your brands from different direction before you unleash your counter. Although in pure marketing context, an attack may not be the most potent defense.

Let me mention the examples from our home grown brands like 'Monte Carlo', 'Haldiram' and many more like them. None of these brands despite demand & marketing potential could go on to become a formidable force to take on the competition. On the other hand, dairy brand like Amul, Verka etc have successfully warded off powerful MNC attack on their consumers segments and mounted a devastating counter on the shining MNC players like HUL in ice cream market.

An organisation howsoever small in size must budget for marketing activities so that they remain capable of mounting a surprise attack when threatened. I personally believe, and my long experience indicates so, that a defensive strategy is always preferable over any form of attack. Many MSME organisations have lost precious market domination opportunities presented by the growing middles class consumption in India. There is huge potential for home grown brands in food, Apparel, Engineering, Education & Chemicals in India. Unfortunately we do not undertake sustained marketing campaigns.

May 10, 2011

Dilution of People's Representation in India

India has grown from 350 millions to 1.21 billions but we still have same number of elected Member of Parliamnet. In a democracy a leader must work & know the peole s/he represents. Is it possible for a MP to meet even 10 percent of people in the constituency during 5 years in office? An MP is no longer representative of the constituency in rational practical manner.

Secondly the ratio of elected representatives to the electorate has been completely altered. Therefore for the sake of a representative democracy we need to increase the number of seats in parliament and enforce the ratio that existed in the year 1947.

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